Solar Goes Mainstream with Military Grade Solar Panels for Golf Carts

SolarFilms teams with E-Z Go on solar panels for golf carts and EVsWhen the U.S. military and the sport of golf take on solar power, that’s a certain indication that solar is crossing over from a fringe curiosity to a solid pillar of the U.S. energy community. A company called PowerFilm, Inc. has found a way to pull those two forces together and accelerate the trend to mass consumer interest in solar technology, by teaming up with the electric vehicle manufacturer E-Z-­GO® to offer a custom military-grade snap-on solar panel system for golf carts and electric cars. The product is set to launch in February.

The U.S. military as a green marketing hook

In its promotional material for its partnership with E-Z-GO, PowerFilm notes that the new snap-on PowerFilm Solar Panel is designed and manufactured to military specifications. That’s a nifty shorthand for positioning the product as durable, reliable, and high-functioning, and PowerFilm has the track record to back it up. The company’s signature Power Shade product, a solar-enabled field tent, was originally designed for the Army, and the company recently won a $5.5 million grant from the Army Research Laboratory to develop a rugged, solar powered electronic display for field use.

Green ambassadors from golf and the military

Though its tempting to think of golf and the military as two examples of tradition-bound cultural icons, both have a rich tradition of innovation when it comes to high tech equipment, so they can play a significant role in putting the cultural seal of approval on new green technology. PowerFilm and E-Z-GO aren’t alone in recognizing the power of a military-related boost for new technology products; the major home building company Meritage Homes, for example, recently launched a line of high tech energy efficient models with a testimonial from an Air Force veteran.

A growing market for solar-powered electric vehicles

In addition to golf cart fleets, the snap-on solar panel system will be applied to E-Z-GO vehicles that can be used for low-speed travel in retirement communities, gated communities, industrial facilities, and other settings. The military connection extends to E-Z Go’s parent company Textron, so it’s a pretty good likelihood that you’ll see solar-powered golf carts and other small, low-speed vehicles tooling around military facilities, too.

Don’t forget the plug-in EVs!

As conceived by PowerFilm, the new solar panel doesn’t fully replace conventional power for charging up a golf cart battery, but it does help reduce battery charging costs, improve battery life, and extend the range of the vehicle. If the primary charge for the battery comes from a stationary solar array, then you have a 100 percent solar powered vehicle. That’s already on the way in both the military and civilian sectors. For example,  Nellis Air Force Base has a project underway to introduce plug-in electric vehicles into its ground fleet along with a major new solar panel array, and SolarCity has launched an electric vehicle charging station package with its home solar panel installations.

Image: Golf cart sign. License AttributionShare Alike Some rights reserved by BernardBoyGenius.

Follow Tina Casey on Twitter: @TinaMCasey.

Tina is a career public information specialist and former Deputy Director of Public Affairs of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, and author of books and articles on recycling and other conservation themes. She writes frequently on sustainable tech issues for Triple Pundit and other websites, with a focus on military, government and corporate sustainability, and she is currently Deputy Director of Public Information for the County of Union, New Jersey.